Creating Distant Togetherness — Kast Watch Parties Reimagined

A case study showcasing the design process behind Kast’s simplified watch party experience.

Project Overview

Kast is a desktop and mobile app offering digital watch party experiences. Our goal at Kast is to bridge the distance between friends and loved ones by making it as simple as possible to watch videos together in real time. This project was completed in 4 weeks.

The problem

How might we refine the party experience to make users feel more connected to the people they watch with?

The Solution

I reworked the main party view, placing an emphasis on a single video experience while enabling users to share their real time reactions via webcam to promote interactions that felt more human.

My Role

As the lead designer at Kast and the sole designer on this project, I created all artifacts included in this case study and spearheaded the project from start to finish.

Discovery

As a data-driven designer, my first step was to analyze the behavioral data we collected in Mixpanel. These findings served as the foundation of the designs and were used to steer user interviews. Here were my findings:

From Mixpanel Data

  1. Being limited to one video source prevented users from sharing their webcams, face-to-face interactions were limited
  2. Half of users prefer voice chat rather than text chat during a movie
  3. 90% of parties have just one person sharing video
  4. 95% of parties are intimate gatherings of 4 people or less, people do not come and go

From User Interviews

  1. A cluttered experience made it difficult to focus on the movie
  2. Users found it difficult to share a movie with their friends and chat at the same time
  3. Providing a way for users to share their webcam and video simultaneously was important to create a feeling of being together

Using my findings, I worked with the team to prioritize items that would have the biggest impact on increasing user engagement within parties. We narrowed the scope to focus on the simplification of the party view and ways to promote webcam usage.

Who am I designing for? — Personas

I leveraged five data-driven personas to help guide the design decisions. For this project, I chose the two that would receive the most value.

Meet Briana. She uses Kast to maintain her long distance relationship. Briana and her partner prefer to use text chat so that they aren’t interrupting the movie, but struggle to otherwise feel connected.

Meet Malcolm. She meets with her 3 friends each night on Kast to watch old movies and show off her knowledge of Hollywood. They use a 3rd party app to share voice and video reactions while they watch together.

Going Broad then Narrow — Ideation

One of many pages of wireframe ideation

I used sketches to explore initial ideas and solutions. After identifying a few general directions I then moved to create low-fidelity digital wireframes in Figma.

The original designs for comparison.

Prototype, Validate, and Repeat — Testing

Next, I wired together a prototype using Figma and ran it through a round of remote usability tests to gather feedback and find pain points in the new experience.

Using Kast to run remote usability tests on Figma prototypes.

Here is a link to the initial prototype.

Results from the first round of user testing were used to inform the second iteration of designs and another round of tests were completed.

After a third round of iteration, changes were solidified with a final set of tests.

Hi-Fi and Ship It!

The designs were finalized with hi-fi mockups and handed over for development. If you’d like to try it out for yourself you can check it out here.

Video taken from a live Kast party.

Measuring Success

The dark blue line represents the weekly average party session duration. The light blue line is a comparison to the previous week. We have seen a 17% boost in this metric.

The following KPI’s represent the measurable goals of this project:

  1. Simplify the party experience

✅ Median time to convert from a party join to party setup decreased by 25%

2. Help users feel more connected

✅ Webcam usage increased by 19%

3. Increase party engagement

✅ Average party session duration increased by 17%

What’s Next?

Kast prides ourselves on quick product cycles so that we can receive valuable feedback directly from our community. The next steps for this project will be to digest the feedback and follow-up this release with a polish project that will include items like splitting audio sources, separating webcam and video sources into two streams, and establishing a more clear path to setup audio for the stream.

Head back to my portfolio or jump straight to my next case study about how my classification app reduced a non-profit’s workload by 20+ hours each month.